InstaSHAM: social media influencers hurting our health?

Just as Instagram, Youtube and Snapchat have influencers that litter our social media feeds so too does medicine.

Chronic diseases occupy an online world of memes, hashtags such as #hospitalglam, and people who provide medical insights to follower communities that too feel voiceless. As a result pharmaceutical companies are hiring these patient influencers to reach and connect with audience groups and of course sell them medicine.

Similar to mainstream #fitspo and wellness bloggers, patient influencers attract business via the size of their online following particularly how many blog subscribers and impressions they have made. From health-start ups, market research companies, brand strategy agencies with pharmaceutical clients a sub-category of the medical industry has made a lucrative business. Bringing in people who actually live with diseases to publicise their products.

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Source: Karolyn Gehrig’s Instagram

However the medical field has been spammed with skepticism. Promoter or patient? Practitioners are concerned bloggers are blurring the line between sponsored content and real life by leveraging consumer trust.

“When it comes to health care the stakes are a lot higher than choosing the right juice cleanse.

“In some sense, influencers in health care aren’t any different from those in fashion or food blogging; they all have conflicts of interest,” says Jeff Belkora, a health policy researcher at the University of California.

Patients offering valuable insight and experiences of different treatments provides social media users an outlet to voice their concerns and overcome stigmas that accompany chronic diseases. However transparency is key, with practitioners calling for ill social media users to not follow blindly and carefully consider their options first.

“The risks of poor health advice is real. In Australia, we have seen mothers who have starved their children pretty much to death following crackpot theories put forward by the unqualified”, says Caroline Overington, The Australian editor discussing ‘wellness gurus’ paleo Pete Evans and Belle Gibson.

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Source: Google Images

So what are your thoughts? Should ill patients be hired to influence certain online communities with  sponsored products? If so and things go sour, should the social media influencer be liable?

Bricking News: Lego uploads new child-friendly social network

Danish toymaker, Lego recently has overtaken Ferrari as Brand Finance’s ‘World’s most powerful brand. From physical toys and clothing, to blockbuster movies and theme parks, Lego is determined to build on it’s small yet powerful two-by-four brick empire. The missing piece just may be their ‘LEGO life’ social media application.

Transitioning from toy brick to mobile application LEGO Life is an new social network specifically designed for children aged 13 and younger to engage safely in all things Lego. In other words, it is basically a Lego-themed Instagram with strict commentary restrictions and bulk Lego ads.

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Source: Lego Instagram

Users are encouraged to post pictures of their brick-built masterpieces, follow other builders, and comment on posts with special Lego emoji’s. The application offers building challenges as a way to try and jump-start creativity in kids. Also serving as a centralised place for users to consume Lego marketing content, with product lines such as Star Wars being promoted through videos and pop-up imagery. Moreover social media accounts of famous Lego characters like ‘Lego Batman’ are attached to comment on creations and communicate with consumers.

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Source: LEGO Life

With the application focusing on safety and creativity, head of LEGO Life, Rob Lowe says “we have created something that we feel will inspire kids to build more…not just what is in the building instructions but also what comes from their imagination”.

With further ambitions of LEGO Life to go beyond the social media aspect. It has been envisioned that application will become the central hub for all online services in efforts to boost user numbers and overall brand consistency.

Toymakers have been hit hard from the emergence of smartphones and tablets, as children spend increasingly more time in digital play on such devices. However Lego has cautiously managed to buck that trend. Blending the physical and digital play together appealing to both parents and kids.

So what do you think? Have the used the LEGO Life app? Hit me up with some of your finest masterpieces!

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Source: LegoGenre

Reword the haters

Strolling through multiple social media influencer profiles’ it has became apparent to me that online mediums’ such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have become public spheres of hate.

Cyberbullying has affected millions of online users around the world and has quickly become one of society’s most serious social epidemics. With no mainstream monitoring systems or programming on social media and other digital platforms, ‘online trolls’ have had free range when posting malicious abuse to innocent users.

However an non-for-profit organisation, Headspace has developed a digital weapon to combat cyberbullying. By designing and implementing the browser extension ‘Reword’, which is a plug-in that extends the functionality of user’s web browsers. Reword has acted as a real-time alert system identifying hurtful phrases with vibrant red crossing lines further prompting users to reword their post.

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Source: Headspace

Due to bully moving away from the schoolyards and now into social media. Digital marketing campaigns like this have been embraced by communities and schools, an example of this has been through the viral hashtags such as #iwillreword and heartfelt celebrity bullying stories which have resonated with various audience segments, saturating online media feeds.

“We need this as a educational tool. Words are used every day and the more people reword the less insults we will see online. The vision of reword is that it will be built into every social media platform and mobile device”, says student wellbeing teacher Fiona Short.

150 million media impressions. $500,000 in generated media value. 84% of insults reworded and a start-up backing of 260 schools Australia wide. Reword has not only changed consumer browsing experiences, perceptions and spread a brand’s message. But also superseded the generalisation that browsing extensions are a gimmicky short-termed trend. (**cough cough the browsing extension ‘NicCage’ that changes any image into a photo of Nicolas Cage)

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So my ending question is what makes a quality browsing extension? Is it utility? Novelty? Social cause? Or is it simply an Adblocker thats actually blocks all ads not just a low percentage?